This blog is like 90% music and 10% other. Today, we have some of the “other” — it’s NBA playoff predictions from Caleb Sarvis. Eastern Conference predictions now, Western Conference predictions in a couple hours. Enjoy!
It’s my favorite time of the year! NBA Playoffs have arrived and begin Saturday night in one the more interesting line ups I’ve seen in the last couple of years. I’m here to bring my predictions and offer what I believe matters in each series. After all, the NBA playoffs is always about two things: 1) Who is the best player in the series? 2) Matchups. I’ll post this preview in two installments; one for the East, one for the West.
(1) Indiana vs (8) Atlanta
Fun fact: Both of Atlanta’s wins over Indiana came by double digits this year. This doesn’t surprise me. Indiana can’t score. They are 24th in the league in PPG but they are second PAPG (Chicago is 1st). Indiana has an elite defense, there’s no question about it, but they can’t seem to get the ball in the basket as frequently as a title contender should. I believe in Paul George and Roy Hibbert, but I have no faith in George Hill. Lance Stephenson might light it up for a game or two, but he also might stink it up for three games or four. On the other side, Paul Millsap was quietly one of the best offseason pickups this year. The Teague-Millsap-Horford triangle could outscore the Pacers struggling offense, though I find the odds against them.
PREDICTION: Pacers in 6.
(2) Miami vs (7) Charlotte
Neither of these teams are the same team they were a year ago, but that might be a good thing. Miami has played about 30 games without Dwyane Wade this season, and still managed a 54 win season. Why? LeBron James. But other than that, Miami has a solid offensive identity. They are more than willing to share the ball and have more depth on the bench than they know what to do with. Charlotte is continuously growing, and the Kemba-MKG combination is coming into form. Factor in the addition of Al Jefferson (greatest offseason pick up this year), and the Bobcats could sneak in a win, especially if Miami doesn’t switch off “coast-mode.” The Bobcats aren’t going to crash the offensive boards as a way to limit Miami in transition, allowing Miami to hide their greatest weakness. My matchup to watch? Jefferson and Bosh.
PREDICTION: Heat in 5.
(3) Toronto vs (6) Brooklyn
Despite the seeding, I think this is the most difficult matchup to predict in the East. Toronto has proven themselves to be a top seed in the East. Kyle Lowry has proven himself to be one of the top point guards in the league, and like Monta Ellis, he just needed to find a system that worked. Demar DeRozan and Terence Ross can explode at any point, and Toronto could easily shoot their way to the next round. They are top 10 in the league in defense, and top 13 in scoring. This could happen. But Brooklyn has been the hottest team in the East since January 1st. They’ve proven they can hang with the best, and despite losing Brook Lopez, they’ve been great. I think at this point, Toronto is the more talented team, but experience means something.
PREDICTION: Nets in 7.
(4) Chicago vs (5) Washington
Chicago has the best defense in the league, and also has the worst offense in the league. Trading away Luol Deng was a move for the future and a solid business decision, but it took away some of their fire power. I think Joakim Noah, despite my overall distaste for him, has been the best center in the league this year, and DJ Augustin has come into his own. Taj Gibson is the man and Thibs never backs down. That said, I mentioned before that basketball is about matchups, and if I’m Washington, I’m much happier about this matchup than I would’ve been if we were facing Toronto. Nene and Gortat can battle down low with Chicago and Wall/Beal can handle the perimeter. Washington is shaky, but expect them to rise to the occasion. Bold claim? Trevor Booker aka La Bibliotreva (you’re welcome) is going to average 15 rebounds. Bolder claim?
PREDICTION: Wizards in 6.
Check back in a couple hours for the Western Conference predictions!